Merritt Palmer Bailey Jr.

Published 2:39 pm Friday, April 19, 2024

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Merritt Palmer Bailey Jr. passed away March 16, 2024 in Chocowinity North Carolina. He was 85 years old and was the oldest of four children. Merritt “Skeeter” was born on September 18, 1938, in Roanoke Virgina, to Margaret Gibson Maxwell, a homemaker and high school mathematics teacher, and to Merritt Palmer Bailey, a citrus grove owner and landscaper.

Skeeter spent his early childhood in the Roanoke Valley area where he had a large extended family. His parents then moved to Santa Barbra California where they owned a large citrus orchard. As a young teenager, his family relocated to Salem Virgina where he graduated from Andrew Lewis High School in 1956.  He then attended Roanoke College and was a member of The Tau Chapter of Sigma Chi Fraternity. Skeeter was married in 1962 to Sharon Lee Sponsler “Shari” in Salem, Virgina. Later that year he joined the United States Army and was stationed with his wife at the Army’s Saumur Signal Depot in Saumur, France. Their first child, Mary Margaret “Boo” Bailey was born during their stay there in 1963. After his service he came home to Salem and worked for GE before Starting his long career with Hewlett Packard in Richmond Virgina. In 1965 his son, Merritt Palmer Bailey III was born in Richmond, Virginia.

Skeeter worked on the service side of the computer industry, for HP for over 30years. During this time, he moved to Chester, Virginia to raise his family. He attended church, became involved with the Kiwanis and the Lions Club. It was around this time that he started to serve on the board of his family’s wildlife foundation and started his lifelong passion of snow skiing which led to many trips and adventures. His transfer to Raleigh, North Carolina was a pivotal time in his career where he moved into management. In later years they would build a house on Lake Gaston, and he became known on the lake for riding his stand-up jet ski.   In 1992, Skeeter was blessed with his only grandchild, William Christopher “Chris” Whichard and in 2020 his first great-grandson William Alexander Whichard was born and in 2023 his great granddaughter Bella Eve Whichard joined the family.

After retiring from Hewlett Packard, Skeeter took classes to be certified to service and repair personal watercrafts which he did for a few summers at Lake Gaston, North Carolina. Eventually they moved there full time to enjoy waterfront living.  Soon afterwards a second home was purchased in Bradenton, Florida where he enjoyed mild temperatures in the winters. Over the many years, Skeeter served on the homeowner’s boards of all three residences, as well as the boards at his multiple churches and was a trustee for a family foundation.

If you knew Skeeter Bailey then you knew someone who loved life, loved helping a friend, and eating a great meal. He was always ready to ride a bike, kayak, or jet ski. He would take the boat out, play with his dogs and any child who showed up at his house.  Most days you could find him outside, in the garage or in the driveway washing his cars. He possessed the ability to make you feel at home and part of any group.  He was always ready to have a drink, grill a steak or sit back and watch the sunset. He, like our mom, formed lasting bonds with everyone and extended a helping hand to anyone. Skeeter was a devoted brother, husband, father, neighbor, and friend.

In addition to his, children, grandchild, and great-grandchildren mentioned above, Skeeter is survived by his brothers, Gordon M. Bailey, (Joanne), John M. Bailey (Joyce), his brother-in- law, Jim Barbarella, his sisters-in-laws, Mary Jo Haut, Susan Baird, and Lorene Sponsler; his nieces, Besty Baird, Mary Jump, Donna Fahey, Amy Barbarella and nephews, David Haut, John Haut, Eric Haut, John Maxwell, John Sponsler, Ed Sponsler, Mathew Barbarella and Bob Sponsler and many other relatives and friends who will cherish his Memory.

 He has joined his parents and his sister Margaret Barbarella in Heaven.

Visitation will be Saturday, April 20, 2024 from 2:00 P.M. to 2:30 P.M. with services to follow at 2:30 PM, which can be viewed online if you cannot attend at Lotz Funeral Home,1330 East Main Street, Salem, Virgina 24153 540-389-9208.

 In lieu of flowers, the family requests you treat yourself to a drink, have a nice meal and think of him as you enjoy the simple things of life.

Condolences may be sent to the family online at

Paul Funeral Home & Crematory of Washington is honored to serve the Bailey family.